Wilfred Owen

Poem for Damned Youth

What passing-bells for those who die as cattle?
– Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,-
The shrill demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
In: „Englische und amerikanische Dichtung, Bd. 3: Von R. Browning bis Heaney“ Hg. Horst Meller und Klaus Reichert (München: C. H. Beck Verlag, 2000), 124-125.

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Wilfred Owen


Wilfred Owen (b. March 18, 1893 near Oswestry, Shropshire, d. November 4, 1918 near Ors, France) is considered Britain’s greatest Great War poet. After serving on the Western front for six months in 1917, he was treated for shell shock at Craiglockhart Hospital in Edinburgh, where he wrote Dulce et decorum est and Anthem for Doomed Youth. Returning to the front in September 1918, Owen was killed in combat one week before the Armistice.